Book Review: Dirk Kurbjuweit’s Twins shows friends who put their bond to the ultimate test

Twin: duplicate or match.
Identical: being the exact same one.

Once again Dirk Kurbjuweit brings us a novel with some unusual characters, something I feel he is mastering rather well. Twins, is a novel about growing up, first loves and friendships. And whilst it touches on eccentric behaviour, it also involves two main characters that you’ll feel empathy for.

Rowing partners Johann and Ludwig are best friends and twins. They will take you on a journey that perhaps you’ve always wanted for yourself; a best mate that will always be there for you, that you can share similar experiences with, and who will sometimes lead you along a dark path, but also someone you’ll be so enamoured with that you will follow like a puppy. Secretly, have you always wondered what life would be like as a twin?

Dark coated from the beginning, the town where Johann and Ludwig live is bleak and grey, with touches of green, and a smidge of colourful love nestled in there too. Twins’ action is centred around Ludwig’s house, a nearby bridge, and the act rowing. It’s that bridge that impacts the two boy’s life,  as well as a shared love for winning.  It is this desire to win that inspires the boys to act like twins and experience everything together, that way they’ll win competitions, instead of the actual twins they compete against.

Kurbjuweit is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of Der Spiegel, and the author of eight critically acclaimed novels that dare breach our moral codes. Initially published in 2001, Twins was only translated this year. Fear and Twins are the first two books to be translated into English.

I read Twins swiftly, it’s not a lengthy novel after all, but it is a stimulating read, one that you’ll lap up and will leave you eager to find out where it is all heading. Where Fear had the deranged downstairs neighbour, Twins has one slightly bent friend, and another friend who is willing to go along with everything. Which friend is worse? Perhaps both, perhaps neither, perhaps just one. Whilst, there is a bit of back and forth at times in the novel, but it is easily understood. It was interesting to read how Ludwig’s character grew and developed into this strange portrayal of obsession and need. Twins finishes with a climatic ending that will make you feel, and what’s more important in a book than that?

Twins is available now through Text Publishing